cloud disaster recovery (cloud DR)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Cloud-based backup: Best strategies and practices

Cloud disaster recovery (cloud DR) is a backup and restore strategy that involves storing and maintaining copies of electronic records in a cloud computing environment as a security measure. The goal of cloud DR is to provide an organization with a way to recover data and/or implement failover in the event of a man-made or natural catastrophe.

There are a number of benefits that make cloud DR appealing to small and mid-size businesses, including the variety of ways it can be implemented; cloud DR can be implemented in-house, partially in house or purchased as a service. This flexibility allows smaller enterprises to implement robust disaster recovery plans that would have been impossible otherwise. Typically, cloud providers charge for storage on a pay-per-use model, based on capacity, bandwidth or seat. Because the provider is in charge of purchasing and maintaining its storage infrastructure, the customer doesn't have to spend money on additional hardware, network resources or data center space and the personnel required to support them.

In addition to cost, there are a number of other important issues to consider before adopting a cloud-based DR, however. For example, should a natural or man-made disaster actually occur, the organization must have the necessary bandwidth and network resources available to redirect users to the cloud. Also, cloud customers should read the provider's service-level agreement (SLA) carefully and know ahead of time how the provider will implement security measures for authentication and data transfer -- and what services the provider will guarantee in the event it should suffer its own disaster. And of course, understanding the most graceful exit strategy for the service is just as important as vetting specific features. Termination or early-withdrawal fees, cancellation notification, and data extraction are just a few of the factors to be considered.

See also: cloud backup, online backup, Storage as a Service (SaaS), cloud storage SLA

This was first published in January 2016

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